• November 25, 2016

Q&A: The Digital Prognosis of Health and Life Sciences

What does the digital future look like for patients and providers?

No industry touches our lives with a deeper reach—impacting our ability to keep living—than healthcare does. From policy and coverage changes to technological innovations, the ways in which we deliver and receive care have evolved dramatically—and will continue to do so at a rapid pace.

For a deeper understanding about the future of the transforming industry, we asked Rikin Patel, Chief Technologist, Health and Life Science for Enterprise Services, to discuss how external forces are impacting the health industry and what healthcare leaders can do to prepare.

What macro forces are shaping healthcare?

Rikin Patel: First is cost. The cost of today’s healthcare is unsustainable because it is drawing on an increased share of gross domestic product (GDP). The overall spend in healthcare is 18 percent of GDP, and that number is expected to grow by about 6.2 percent annually. Improving health and quality of life has come at a very high cost.

Second is the shift in demographics. We see an increase in chronic diseases due to longer life expectancy, which is made possible by advancements in medicine that deliver cures and management of certain diseases, such as Hepatitis C. Longer lifespans are giving rise to an aging population requiring more medical care.

Third is increased government policy and regulations. As they seek ways to bend the cost curve, improve quality, and provide broader access to healthcare, governments are driving healthcare reforms and shaping how healthcare is delivered.

Finally, we see the consumerization of the patient. Patient data that was once inaccessible is now managed via electronic medical records (EMRs.) Expectations in the idea economy and the patient’s technology experience will shape future expectations of their healthcare solutions.

What factors or situations are transforming the industry?

Patel: Healthcare is evolving from a fee-for-services model to a value-based model, and digitization is accelerating this reality. This change will put the emphasis on the patient’s care and reimburse physicians based on the value of the care they deliver. Traditionally we’ve compensated providers for a test or service. Now providers are being compensated when a patient makes progress. This means that the industry has shifted and healthcare organizations will continue to shift to focused patient-centered care.

Further, we will continue to see a shift in care that is enabled by technology and the democratization of data, with a continued move toward patients owning their own well-being and healthcare choices. Genomics and precision medicine will enable this new level of personalized care. Hepatitis C is on the forefront of a cure thanks to advances in precision medicine.

Telemedicine will continue to expand and evolve. Our connected world and ability to create virtual models will drive the patient care of the future. Connectivity will enable greater and easier access to patients and their data.

Finally, healthcare will become an analytics-driven enterprise with intelligent devices. Data and analytics will drive the care of the future, and prescriptive and predictive analytics will enable progress in health and wellness for the broader population.

What trends do you see happening in the next three to five years?

Patel: Compared to other industries, healthcare has trailed behind in understanding the value of digitization and incorporating the technology and innovation. While there is a lot of catching up to do, we will see the digitization of the healthcare business. This includes the digitization of the patient experience, the digitization of facilities and internal operations, and the digitization of the business model.

In the area of personalized care, we will see more intelligent machines. Wearables will play an elevated role. Personalized healthcare will be enabled by new models of patient engagement. As connectivity becomes ubiquitous, we will see a shift in the care model from traditional delivery to virtual and connected care.

And let’s not forget the rise of the machines. IoT will drive the realization of this connected care and enable continuous monitoring from anywhere. Smart machines on individuals and in facilities will enable new forms of services, experiences, and results. IoT offers a highly connected eco-system of sensors and devices that enable new experiences to deliver health outcomes at a much lower cost.

What impacts digital transformation in healthcare?

Patel: Privacy, security, and compliance are at the top of the list. The industry’s overall focus to extract value from digital transformation will need to be balanced against patient privacy, security of data, and compliance. Regulatory reforms within the healthcare model also guide transformation.

What can healthcare leaders do to be prepared for the future?

Patel: The transformed future state of healthcare will require leaders to be more open and flexible to the amount of change ahead. Healthcare leaders need to build and enable teams that can and will adapt to change quickly.

As the traditional healthcare business model shifts, transformation to the digital experience of tomorrow will be complex. Leaders must focus on patient experience and invest in talent who can deliver the digital experience of tomorrow.

Finally, the future state will require cloud, security, Big Data, and productivity tools to work together seamlessly to deliver the transformed digital experience. Leaders must invest in the talent and technology, and find partners that can deliver these critical next-gen solutions.

For more on how healthcare organizations are moving from transaction-oriented systems to performance-driven solutions, read Make the Shift.

Read more industry insights:

Q&A: Driving Transformation in the Automotive Manufacturing Industry 

Only the Strongest Survive: The Evolved Future State of Financial Services